The Gungahlin community is constantly ignored, even though it is one of the most engaged in Canberra. We want a voice in how the government affects our lives. Talk with us, and listen to us.
I have been very active in community groups over the years, including the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC), the Crace Community Association, and the Parents and Citizens association at my children’s school. I have seen it firsthand: people in Gungahlin want to be involved in their community.
Locals know their area. They know what will not work well, even before we have spent money on a bad outcome. Unfortunately, that does not stop us getting these bad outcomes.
Community consultation doesn’t have to be hard, but there is a strong sense that the Labor/Greens coalition currently ignores the community. People want to have their say on local matters. So often, government consultation comes too little and too late. It is ticking the box that says “we engaged the community”, while decisions have already been made. The idea of “discussion” as way to advise of an outcome is not good enough.
My experience on the Gungahlin Community Council
I recently stepped down as Treasurer of 5 years of the Gungahlin Community Council to contest this election. My time with the Council was very rewarding, and I intend to remain active there after the election. I recommend you volunteer if you have the time.
Since the 2016 election, I can count on one hand the number of times any MLA attended a public meeting just to listen. If offered a talking spot they were more likely to attend, but even then, it was normal for a last minute cancellation or delay. I know because I was there, keeping the social media audience connected.
In this next term of government, I want to see better engagement from the Yerrabi MLAs. I know firsthand what support the GCC would benefit from, and am willing to provide it.
Empowering and supporting the Gungahlin Community Council
The GCC, along with the Combined Community Councils of Canberra, are calling for “district/precinct liaison officers within the ACT government to act as internal advocates with government, and present a joined-up view of government to residents and businesses based on locale.”
That sounds like the role of an MLA, and what I expect to deliver in the role. As such, I propose a Memorandum of Understanding to formally support the GCC as an MLA. At minimum, the expectations and responsibilities of both parties need to be laid out.
The GCC Executive of the day will need to agree the exact terms, possibly after each AGM. Initially, I propose to attend Executive (as required) and Public meetings in a non-voting capacity, and deliver a Gungahlin-specific Assembly Report at each. I will advocate for the Gungahlin community both directly, and in complete cooperation with the GCC.
As well as delivering an Assembly report, I will take on new actions in response to community discussions, and report on existing actions. Presumably, some of those actions will be direct, and some will be to coordinate a response from someone more appropriate.
Finally, I propose to be available to accompany GCC member to meetings with public servants. Here I will see firsthand the issues that are important to the GCC, how they are handled by the public service, and what next steps are required.
With this commitment, I hope to see the GCC rise in prominence in the community. The public will know that they can regularly engage with their MLAs, and there is a commitment to be open and support the GCC. This will lead to better community engagement for the GCC, and better outcomes for Gungahlin.
What about other organisations, and the rest of Yerrabi?
There are other groups and organisations in Gungahlin, and the suburbs of Hall, Kaleen, and Giralang. These organisations may not fall under the scope of the GCC, and I would offer similar agreements to those groups.
The groups could include the Mitchell Traders Association, suburban resident groups, and the Belconnen Community Council (representing the suburbs of Kaleen and Giralang). I would be open to discussions with any organised group representing the people of Yerrabi.
Call for mutual support from all MLAs across Canberra
This is not something that should be unique to Gungahlin Community Council, or a single Independent. I implore all parties and candidates to commit to a closer and more formal working arrangement with their local Community Councils.
- Enter in to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gungahlin Community Council, outlining my commitment to support and participate with their activities.
- Attend GCC Executive meetings as an observer and supporter, (at the invitation of the GCC).
- Attend GCC Public meetings and give a Gungahlin-specific Assembly Report each meeting.
- Take on community Action Items during public meetings.
- Extend a similar offer to other organised groups in Yerrabi who may not fall within the scope of the GCC.